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PHP 5.6 End of Life Implications for Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 2.5

PHP Logo

There will be no more security updates for Joomla 5.6 after 31st December 2018.

Recommended Version of PHP for Joomla 3.x Websites

Joomla websites already running on Joomla 3.x should have their hosting updated to PHP 7.2 if it isn't already. (Security support for PHP 7.1 ends on 3rd December 2018).

PHP 5.6 End of Life Options for Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 2.5 Websites

Joomla 1.5 and Joomla 2.5 are not compatible with PHP 7. As hosting providers drop support for PHP 5, Joomla 1.5 and 2.5 will cease to function. It's not clear exactly when this will happen and it might depend on the timing and severity of security vulnerabilities discovered after security support for Joomla 5.6 ends at the end of 2018.

When your hosting company announces they are dropping support for PHP 5.6, a short term solution may be to move to another host that still supports PHP 5.6 but ideally you should be aiming to migrate any remaining Joomla 1.5 or Joomla 2.5 websites to Joomla 3.x or some other secure platform within the next few months.

Another option for a simple Joomla 1.5 or Joomla 2.5 website with few ongoing updates is to recreate the website as a static HTML website as I have done for Graham Woodhouse Conveyancing and similar. A static HTML website can still have all the basic essential features such as a responsive template, SSL, search engine friendly URLs, Google Analytics, search engine optimisation and a contact form. Additional benefits of static HTML websites are faster performance and little or no ongoing cost (apart from the domain name and hosting renewals).

What Version of PHP is My Website Running On?

There are a few ways for you to check what version of PHP your website is running on. For example:

  • use a free online tool such as the HTTP / HTTPS Header Check at http://www.webconfs.com/http-header-check.php
  • on Joomla 1.5 websites, log in to the back-end of the website and go to Help -> System Info
  • on Joomla 2.5 and Joomla 3.x websites, log in to the back-end of the website and go to Site -> System Information
  • log in to your cPanel (or similar) hosting control panel and click on "Select PHP Version" or similar

Migrate My Joomla Website

Migrate from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3.x

The cost of migrating from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3.x depends on the number of third party extensions and whether there are Joomla 3.x equivalents, whether there is an equivalent Joomla 3.x template and other factors. A straightforward Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 3.x migration typically takes at least five hours and costs from around $450.

Contact me for a quote.

Migrate from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.x

The cost of migrating from Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.x depends on the number of third party extensions and whether there are Joomla 3.x equivalents, whether there is an equivalent Joomla 3.x template and other factors. A straightforward Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.x migration migration typically takes at least three hours and costs from around $250.

Contact me for a quote.

Static HTML Website vs Content Management System

In 2018, the most popular ways to build and publish a website are:

  1. static HTML websites
  2. content management systems such as Joomla or WordPress
  3. software as a service options such as Squarespace, Wix and Weebly

Options 1 and 2, where you can choose your own hosting provider, make the most sense to me because you stay in control of your website and your investment is protected. CMS suppliers, template suppliers or hosting companies can go out of business but you can quickly restore your website from a backup to alternative hosting if necessary and continue business as usual.

With option 3, the service provider can implement changes at any time with little or no or warning and changes may not suit your particular requirements. If you are not happy with the direction the service provider is heading or if the service provider goes out of business, there is often no easy way to export or migrate your website to a format that can easily be restored elsewhere. Relying on one particular service provider risks the future of your business and the risk increases with the amount invested.

Given that I only recommend and provide options 1 and 2 (static HTML websites and content management systems), these are the two options which I compare below.

 Static HTML WebsiteContent Management System
Typical initial cost AU$450 to AU$750 AU$450 to AU$2500
Annual maintenance cost nil from AU$390 per year
Annual hosting and domain name registration cost
from AU$50 per year from AU$100 per year
Page load performance Fastest Fast
Updates Requires basic understanding of HTML and FTP  Easy
Responsive template Yes Yes
SSL certificate Yes Yes
Analytics Yes Yes
Basic search engine optimisation such as search engine friendly urls, unique page titles, page headings and meta descriptions for each page Yes Yes
Basic features such as contact forms, slideshows and galleries Yes Yes
Advanced features such as booking systems, directories, e-commerce, custom forms, surveys, member only section of website, forums, event management and so on No Yes
 Examples

In summary:

Static HTML websites are best suited for simple websites where the website might only be updated a few times a year. Ongoing maintenance fees cost little or nothing.

Content management systems such as Joomla and WordPress are best suited for websites requiring more advanced features or for websites that are updated regularly such as every week or every month. Ongoing maintenance fees start at around AU$39 per month.

 

LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla

Joomla plus LiteSpeed

For websites hosted on LiteSpeed servers, LiteSpeed Cache dramatically improves performance.

LiteSpeed Cache has been available for a while and there are ways this can be enabled in Joomla by editing your .htaccess file.

Since May 2018, LiteSpeed Cache is now much easier to enable and configure on Joomla 3.x websites by installing the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension from LiteSpeed.

Installation

The install package is installed normally via the Joomla installer and installs a LiteSpeed Cache Component and a LiteSpeed Cache Plugin which are both enabled by default during the install. The default settings seem reasonable.

The LiteSpeed Cache has some server requirements. if you're not sure whether your server complies, it's fairly easy to download the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension, install and verify whether it's working or not.

Testing

I have tested the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension on a few hosting plans and so far have found it works on:

I will add to this list as I discover other web hosting plans this works with.

From the few examples I have tried so far, web pages are typically loading three times as fast with the LiteSpeed Cache enabled.

performance improvement

Clearing the LiteSpeed Cache

The LiteSpeed Cache can be purged via Components -> LiteSpeed Cache -> Purge All LiteSpeed Cache.

More Information

For more information, see the following:

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.

Massive SiteGround Price Increase

SiteGround No Longer Recommended

After moving my own websites to SiteGround a few years ago and encouraging a few clients in the same direction, it has been very disappointing to discover that SiteGround have massively increased their prices on their shared hosting (and possibly other services).

The price of the SiteGround "GrowBig" plan, for example, has increased from AU$178.20 last year to AU$299.40 - a 68% price increase.

Unfortunately, SiteGround don't show GST inclusive pricing (in contravention of the Australian component pricing laws). Once GST is added, the GrowBig plan actually changes from AU$178.20 (what I paid last year) to AU$329.34 which is a massive 85% price increase.

This is a separate issue to SiteGround's deceptively low introductory prices (which revert to the full price when plans are renewed after the first year).

As far as I am aware there has been no blog post or other announcement and the first clients usually become aware of the price increase is when they receive their renewal notice four weeks before their hosting expires. This does not leave budget conscious customers much time to find an alternative host and also burdens them with the cost of the move if they choose to go elsewhere.

The official explanation seems to be that many new features have been added and the increase brings them to similar value for money as their competitors. I don't dispute any of this but surely new features could have been added as an option rather than forcing the features and resultant price increase on clients who may not need or use the new features? I suspect SiteGround have done their homework and many clients will grudgingly pay the increased price rather than work out how to move their business elsewhere as this does not seem like a trivial task to most clients (although it is usually fairly easy to do).

When searching for an alternative to the SiteGround "GrowBig" plan (which includes dynamic cache), the two most promising alternative hosting plans with a Singapore data center option are:

  • FastComet "SpeedUp" plan @ US$143.40 (annually billed)
  • A2 Hosting "Turbo" Plan @ US$251.88 (annually billed)

The FastComet plan looks promising. They have a 14 Day Free Trial (no credit card required) and a free virus and malware removal service. Like SiteGround, the price reduces if you sign up for more than one year.

The other option which might suit some of my Australian clients is to bring the websites home to Zuver or VentraIP and enable a CDN such as CloudFlare or similar. Another option to speed up websites and that works with the relatively new VentraIP "Starter", "Freedom" and "Premier" shared hosting plans is to install the free Joomla 3.x LiteSpeed Cache extension released in May 2018. This improves performance significantly so website visitors across the globe are still able to load web pages quickly even when they are hosted in Australia. For more information see: LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla. The VentraIP "Starter" plan @ AU$83.40/year with LiteSpeed Cache enabled performs as well as, and is a quarter of the cost of, the SiteGround "Growbig" plan @ AU$329.34/year with Dynamic Cache enabled.

I don't mind paying a little extra for a premium product and good service but the SiteGround "GrowBig" Plan @ AU$329.34/year costs more than nine times the Zuver "Web Hosting" Plan @ AU$36/year which is sufficient for many of my clients.

Although SiteGround don't seem to have made any official announcement, they are very quick to answer any complaints on social media including the post I made on the Webilicious Facebook Page (which only has about 100 followers!) and also a post I submitted to the Whirlpool Forums.

Clients who are still hosting their websites with SiteGround should check their renewal dates and plan accordingly.

Renewal notices are sent out 30 days in advance of renewal but credit cards are billed two weeks before the renewal date if you have Autorenew enabled. If you need a little more time to move the website, you can disable Autorenew by logging in to the hosting control panel and going to Billing -> Billing Settings:

Disable Siteground Autorenew

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.